The decision of Kerala government to make vaccination mandatory for school admissions has sparked a debate in the state with the anti-vaccination activists planning to approach the High Court against it. 

 

Going ahead with its decision to make vaccination mandatory in schools, the Left government in Kerala has given special orders to conduct a survey to check the immunisation status of students in schools. The survey is aimed at classifying children as those who have not taken vaccination so far and those who have not completed the prescribed course. The study is planned to be completed in a month.

 

The government move follows reports that a good number of families in northern districts of Kerala, especially in Malappuram, are shunning immunisation on religious grounds. Anti-vaccination propaganda by naturopaths and certain orthodox religious groups has gained credenced among a big section of the society, putting thousands of children vulnerable to deadly diseases like diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and other life-threatening illness. As the debate over vaccination gained momentum in the state, it also witnessed some diseases that were once wiped out through sustained vaccination drives showing signs of return. Last year, Malappuram district reported two child deaths due to diphtheria.

 

Statistics available with the Department of Public Health shows that as many as 26,184 children evaded vaccination in 2014-15. A good majority of these kids (more than 24,000) belonged to Malappuram district.

 

If the number of unimmunised increases, it will result in the return of vaccine-preventable illnesses. There is no point in crying after the return of such diseases. We need to start preventive steps against the drop in the number of immunised children, an official with the Health Department said. 

 

But, ‘Better Life Society,’ an organisation of naturopathy enthusiasts, has come up against the move to make immunisation mandatory in schools.  “It is an objectionable move. If the government is going ahead with the decision, our children studying in schools here will be in trouble,” said Sajan of Better Life Society. The society is planning to approach the High Court against the government move, he added.